Katie May, Founder of Yin Yang Skincare & Champion of British Farming Talks to Skin Science Reporter

Skin Science Reporter (SSR): Katie, you have great skin, almost no lines and zero blemishes, what is the secret?

Katie May [KM]: For the past 36 years I have followed a simple daily routine of skincare…religiously! Once you develop a routine it is no different than an oral hygiene routine…

SSR: Can you tell me what is meant by a skincare routine... I have never been quite sure?

KM:  Oh that is very simple - mildly acidic cleansing is the corner stone of a daily routine and the secret to a lifetime of beautiful skin. This should be followed with toning and hydration; I use the lovely soft Yin Yang Orange Flower Tonic spray, which softens and moisturises, including importantly, even the finest skin around the eyes. Then it is simply a question of choosing the best cream to moisturise and feed the skin during the day. Some skins need more protein than others…this depends on lifestyle factors such as diet, environment and of course, if you are female, hormonal fluctuations.   

SSR: You do this every day without fail?

KM:  Of course! My day starts with a very thorough cleansing. Then (if sitting at my desk), I leave my skin to breathe, but if I go outside into the sunshine, I will use Yin Yang pH-amino Gold Defence Lotion under a light liquid make-up, and cover up with light cotton clothes and a big floppy cotton hat.  

SSR: Katie, I know that you are outside every morning with horses doing dressage training, wouldn’t it be easier to just slap on a factor cream?

KM: There is nothing easier that using Ph-Amino Gold Defence Lotion, it is a lovely warm summery lotion and easily absorbed by the skin. And it is so good for the skin because it is rich in Vitamin E – one of the most powerful anti-oxidants in Nature and considered to be an effective weapon against cellular ageing. Did you know that high levels of vitamin E are found in sebum and in the skin lipid film in sebum-rich areas such as the face? The action of this important vitamin in oily skin types may be one reason why those skins age better than drier skin types. But getting back to factor creams, I doubt that I would be very happy with my skin if I were using them.

SSR: What is it about factor creams that you do not like?

KM: I do not like their ingredients, so I take the “cover up” option, although I make sure to get enough sunlight on my skin to keep my Vitamin D levels topped up. I don’t want osteoporosis.

SSR: What is pH-Amino Gold Defence Lotion, is it a moisturiser or a sun screening product?   

KM: pHamino-Gold Lotion is a superb moisturising lotion for all skin types. The formulation is centred on wheat germ oil and this has proved to be a great defence against drying of the skin in all weather conditions, whether hot summer sun or cold winter weather. Did you know that it was taken to the South Pole at the beginning of 2009 by the Southern Lights expedition? The team using p H-Amino Gold, was the only one not to suffer from frost bite!

SSR: I did hear about that expedition, Ben Fogle was also involved I think?

 KM: Yes that is right! Tess Burrows, an old Yin Yang customer, and a grandmother (imagine that?), went on the Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race, to raise awareness for issues ranging from climate change to human rights and multiple sclerosis. 

SSR: Katie, getting back to the skincare routine, has your routine changed over the last 40 years?

KM: When I was younger I only used the Yin Yang Kaolin Face Mask – then we called it Precious Earth Face Mask, twice a month, but nowadays I use it more regularly because it helps with the exfoliation. Also I like to use a protein cream from time to time. Sometimes this is Wild Yam & Soya Cream, especially if I feel in need of an energy boost, or I use Yin Yang Rich Skin Food, which suits my fine skin type. The Yin Yang Joint Cream with MSM also makes a good all over body treatment, not only dealing with the odd “twinge” but moisturising and nourishing the skin at the same time.  

SSR: And what about in the evening Katie, does the routine get repeated or varied for the end of the day?

KM: I repeat the morning thorough cleanse and tone routine and (if I feel the need) will use a little Rich Skin Food.  My daily beauty treatment is simple, and yet it has made my skin feel both alive and pampered for almost 40 years.

SSR: Yin Yang Skincare has been a part of your life for nearly 40 years; what led you to get into this sector?

KM:  It was my interest in keeping my own skin “as young as possible for as long as possible” that led to the research and development of the Yin Yang Skincare health and beauty ranges.  

SSR: It is widely known that you came to develop Yin Yang Skincare after being trained in the food sector, what was the connection?

KM: In the early seventies – just as I was entering my thirties, I was curious to find the best way to condition my skin.  The training I had received in food (botanical protein) fermentation techniques, led me to conclude that edible botanical ingredients held the key.   

KM: At the very beginning I knew – instinctively that acidic plant oils, plant proteins and fruit juices and extracts, were ideal ingredients to work with for skincare. I took a look at standard cosmetic ingredients, so often built around petroleum derivatives and lanolin, and the ubiquitous detergents and decided not to work with them. Common sense told me that if an ingredient was good to eat, it would not harm the skin. So I chose components for the Yin Yang formulations that were mildly acidic, like apple, orange and coconut.  There was also a cruelty free aspect (animal testing was still widely practised then), and increasingly there was also an important scientific facet to the formulations. I had learned a natural (non chemical) way to make  soya protein acidic and developed a technique to blend (what is now Yin Yang’s signature ingredient) fermented soya protein together with botanical oils and extracts to formulate Yin Yang’s range of lotions, creams and masks.   That is how Yin Yang Skin Care was born, and how it has been developed ever since.

SSR: You are still as committed and involved with Yin Yang Skincare as you ever were, and yet you have time to devote to dressage training?

KM: My days are rather busy, and Yin Yang Skincare does take a big portion of my time – especially formulating – that is my first love! But living here on the borders of the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire, I like to get outside into my herb gardens and walking with Amie (my terrier). Yin Yang Skincare has strong ties with the countryside – my herb gardens are a tremendous source of inspiration and of course many of our ingredients come from British organic and biodynamic farms.

SSR: Is that why you take up the cause of British Farmers (Plum Growers and British Cheddar)?

KM: Definitely! We have strong farming traditions in Britain and in the interests of reducing reliance on environmentally expensive importation of botanical goods, and at the same time supporting local growers, we do seek to champion British growers.

SSR: I guess you hope that consumers feel the same way about British Skincare?

KM: Women will only buy skincare products that they trust and know will work: that is why they buy Yin Yang, that is why I formulated the Yin Yang Skincare range and why I use it myself – every day of every year!

SSR: Thank you Katie.